Lauren Voaden

The next morning at eleven o’clock, the pair arrived at the nearby church. A swarm of black-clad mourners surrounded the church grounds. Still wanting to make a point about yesterday’s argument, Elisabeth continued to maintain an emotional distance from Harold. This wasn’t an arduous task since her mind kept wandering back to the strange woman and the fire the evening before. She wondered if the house was all right. She’d not heard anything about it; not even the locals seemed to be gossiping about it. The fire must have been put out somehow.

A few hours later, the final funeral attendees were leaving the church ground, leaving only the immediate family in the graveyard. Elisabeth had never got on with any of them. They were all as dull as Harold. She watched as her husband approached his brother, nudged his arm and motioned for them to head over to a secluded part of the churchyard surrounded by large bushes dotted with pink flowers.

Elisabeth was about to put herself between the two men to prevent any discussion that might be had when two police officers appeared at the church gate.

“Excuse me, is there an Elisabeth Wilson here?”

Elisabeth tentatively raised her hand.

“Ma’am, we need to ask you a few questions.”

Elisabeth nodded her head and walked over to them. She glanced back at Harold. His appalled expression put her on the back foot, and a sense of dread began to take hold.

“We’re investigating a suspected arson attack and have been told by a gentleman who was walking his dog yesterday evening that he came across a woman running down Trethek Lane last night. He recognised you as the wife of Mrs Wilson’s son, Harold. We understand you and your husband are here for Mrs Wilson’s funeral, and we apologise for the difficult timing. However, we do need to ask what you were doing yesterday evening between the hours of eight and nine?”

Elisabeth peered over her shoulder again and saw Harold standing upright with his eyebrows furrowed. He was clearly trying to listen in on the conversation.

“I’d gone for a walk to visit the property. Me and my husband recently learned that we were going to inherit it.”

The officer raised his eyebrows. “You’re inheriting the house? Oof, it’s quite run down, isn’t it?”

“It is. It looked a right mess, to be honest.” The officer’s chatty tone put Elisabeth at ease. She decided to lighten the conversation. After all, she hadn’t done anything wrong. “Probably the best thing for it was to be burned down,” she let out a polite laugh.

“Yes. I suppose it would be. The insurance claim would be worth a packet, wouldn’t it.” The police officer held her gaze.

Elisabeth felt her expression drop.

“I guess it would. Not that I see how that’s relevant.” Elisabeth cleared her throat. “I saw a woman with curly blonde hair come out of the house and sit in the garden. She stayed there and watched the flames come out the front door.”

“You saw another person there?”

“Yes, she was blonde, as I said, and slim. I think she was wearing a black coat and a beanie.”

“And you saw flames coming out the front door?”

“Yes, she must have started the fire and then got a front-row seat to watch her handiwork unfold.”

“So, you went to visit the house, saw flames coming out the front door, and saw the individual who’s potentially responsible exit the building, and yet you didn’t think to report any of this to the police?”

Elisabeth fell silent. “No. Well, yes. What are you getting at?” She searched for the right thing to say. “It’s been a horrible week, I’ve lost my mother-in-law, and we’ve dropped our normal lives to come back here for the funeral. Yes, I saw flames pouring out of her abandoned, ruined home. Forgive me if I didn’t act logically; it was upsetting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my husband; he needs me.”

With that, she turned on her heels and started to walk away from the officers. Harold was staring at her with furious intensity. As she approached, he began to walk in the opposite direction, back to the church car park. Elisabeth pursued him. As he opened the car door, she grabbed him by the shoulder and urged him to stop.

“Harold, wait, where are you going?”

“Anywhere that’s not here. Anywhere away from you.”

Elisabeth stared at him in shock.

“Harold, what are you talking about? Let’s just head back to the hotel and—”

“Save it. I heard everything. I know what you’ve done.”

A momentary look of confusion flashed across her face before it clicked.

“Wait, you think I started the fire at your mum’s house?”

“Well, it’s all a little too convenient, don’t you think? You’ve been desperate to get your hands on the money from the house ever since you found out it had been left to me, and you’ve said how much you’d hate to live there. You even said it would be better burnt down. You know what? Everything everyone’s ever told me about you is true. You’re materialistic, uncaring and cruel. Though I have to say I’m beyond shocked to find out you’re this level of insane.”

“Harold, as if —”

But he’d already climbed into his car and started pulling away.

She watched him disappear into the distance. Her life felt like it was unravelling before her eyes, and her only comfort was the police officer’s firm hand on her shoulder.

Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent

January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)

June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)

July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)

August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)

September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)

October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world


Cover photo: Gwithian, England – Graveyard – Daan Kloeg (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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